BAGUIO CITY: All congressmen from the Cordillera have agreed to formulate a timetable in the crafting and filing of a proposed autonomy law in the 18th Congress by October 28, simultaneously with the conduct of a grassroots information and education campaign led by the Regional Development Council (RDC) in partnership with different stakeholders.
Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang, two-time chairman of the House Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples, over the weekend said the Cordillera lawmakers agreed to submit their inputs to the proposed autonomy bill by October 18, and that the secretariat would immediately start formulating the content of the proposed bill, which they would sign and file on October 28.
He added that among the major references that are now being used by the congressmen in the crafting of the proposed autonomy law were House Bill 5343 that was also filed in the 17th Congress, added inputs from the RDC technical working group, recommendations from an indigenous peoples leaders assembly and contents of their extensive researches.
“We hope that we will all be in Manila on October 28 for us to sign the proposed law and file the same to get things started,” Mangaoang said.
The two-term Kalinga lawmaker added that the first congressional consultation that will be conducted on the proposed autonomy bill will be on November 8, simultaneously with the Cordillera Multi-Stakeholders Forum on Autonomy, which is being organized by the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, Presidential Communications and Operations Office and the RDC-Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
With the help of Chairman Allen Capuyan of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, who is from CAR, Mangaoang said it was possible that the RDC-CAR, the Cordillera congressmen and the concerned stakeholders would be able to secure a certification from President Rodrigo Duterte, stating, among others, that the proposed Cordillera autonomy bill is a priority measure.
He added that one amendment that he introduced seeks provision of a subsidy that will be provided by the national government to the autonomous regional government.
Instead of being divided among local government units, the subsidy must be infused to bankroll implementation of short, medium and long-term income-generation projects, such as hydropower plants in potential areas to ensure that the region will be financially independent after the lapse of the 10-year subsidy period.
Mangaoang said aside from lawmakers from Mindanao who promised their all-out support to the passage of the proposed Cordillera autonomy law, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda is also helping the Cordillera congressmen formulate appropriate provisions of the law on finances of the autonomous region that will be established.